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First Timer's Guide


Congratulations! Skiing and snowboarding is more than just a winter sport, it is a lifestyle and point of pride for millions of American. Your interest in trying the sport will be rewarded in joyful discovery of what we established skiers and snowboarders already passionately enjoy. All of us at The Summit take great pride in getting people enjoying sliding on snow the right way, through great instruction and affordable options. Read on for great information regarding getting started in one of the greatest winter pastimes!

THE Place To Learn

Summit West

Long hailed as "The Place to Learn at The Summit" this base area offers an abundance of beginner terrain. Another bonus - a HUGE rental shop for all of your equipment needs! Check out the Hours of Operations for Summit West's schedule.


  • Dress in Layers
    Wearing layers keeps you warmer because it lets you adjust your clothing if the temperature changes as the day goes on. The morning might be chilly while the afternoon sun can make you bake. It's also a good idea to wear moisture "wicking" clothing to stay dry and comfortable. The "wicking" keeps the sweat away from your body.

    Your outermost layer should be wind and water resistant, including your pants. Clothes such as jeans or sweatpants just don't cut it, and are only going to guarantee you'll be wet and cold. One pair of quality "wicking" socks will keep your feet nice and warm. More isn't always better when it comes to your feet, so don't bother with the second pair of socks.


    Always Wear Mittens or Gloves
    Keep your hands warm, dry, and protected with a good pair of waterproof gloves or mittens. This is a must have.


    Sure beanies look cool, but consider a helmet. No, not a motorcycle or bike helmet; I'm talking about one specifically made for skiing or snowboarding. With the latest styles, they look just as cool as beanies and they're safer for your skull. The best helmet is the one that fits. You're confused about how to tell if it fits? Ask the sales person at your local shop, or a rental shop tech, to explain it to you.Parents-if you're worried about your munchkin's head outgrowing a new helmet every season, check out our helmet rental program. We offer season long helmet rentals at an affordable price in a variety of sizes. Remember-You can lose up to 20% of your body heat through your head. Keep it covered to stay warm.


    Wear Sunscreen and Lip Balm
    The sun's rays are less filtered at higher elevations. Snow also reflects sun rays like a giant mirror, making them even more intense. Wind can burn your skin too. It's tough to explain to your boss or teacher why you're bright red when you supposedly "spent the day in bed recovering from that nasty flu virus that's going around." Protect your skin and you won't have to think of any excuses!


    Goggles and Sunglasses
    Remember the last time you walked out of a dark movie theater into the bright sunlight and were temporarily blinded? Since the bright sunlight is reflecting off the snow, there is no "temporarily" in this situation. Get some goggles or sunglasses that will protect your peepers.But you say "it's not sunny so I don't need glasses or goggles." Ever tried to keep your eyes open while rippin' down the slopes while it's snowing? It's painful and difficult to see. Do yourself a favor and don the eye protection.

  • A checklist can keep you from having to skip your day of skiing or snowboarding.

    Make a checklist of the essential items you need, and check it before leaving your house. Here's a list of suggestions to get you started. Whether or not you think the Pink Floyd Box Set is a necessity is up to you.

    • Backpack or gear bag/duffle - Many people keep their ski and snowboard gear in one handy bag and use it every time they head to the mountains.
    • Hat - When your head is warm, the rest of you is more likely to stay warm.
    • Waterproof Gloves or Mittens - Mittens are warmest.
    • Goggles - Optional, but best for snowy days.
    • Sunglasses - An absolute must; UV protection is required.
    • Water-resistant pants - Wind pants, insulated.
    • Warm, dry socks - Bring an extra pair.
    • Jacket/parka - Water-resistant is best.
    • Extra lightweight sweater or sweatshirt - For layering, if needed. Wool or Dry-weave fabrics are much warmer than cotton.
    • Sunscreen - SPF 15 or higher.
    • Pocket tissues - Optional, but your nose may run a little.
    • Lip Balm - SPF 15 or higher.
    • Energy Bar - A little snack to keep you energized.
    • Trail Map - Gotta know where ya are and where ya wanna go!!
    • ID/wallet/petty cash - Store in a secure, zipper pocket.
    • Water - Stay Hydrated! Drink plenty of water before and after your day on the slopes. Maybe pack an extra bottle of water or two in your ski bag or locker.
  • Understand Your Fitness and Ability Level
    You don't have to look like a slim marathon runner to enjoy snow sports. But it's important to work within your own limits. Pace yourself, don't venture too far from resting places that provide shelter from the elements, and don't overdo it. Check out our ability level guide to help pick appropriate lessons and slopes.  

    Drink Up!
    Sun, wind, sweat and altitude rob your body of fluids. In fact, you can become dehydrated long before you even feel thirsty. It's important that you start the day hydrated and stay that way 'til your very last run. Stop frequently for water or carry it with you. Caffeine and alcohol won't replenish your body fluids as well as juice or plain water. Save toasting with the good stuff until after you're off the slopes for the day.


    Eat and Sleep Well
    Long before the line was used in cereal commercials, nutrition experts knew that breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. Skipping it only leaves you fatigued and crabby before lunch, which serves only as a source of irritation for your friends. If your metabolism is running at the rate of a Formula One Race car, bring along a snack to refuel mid-morning or have some money to buy replenishment's. And trying to watch the sunrise on the day of your trip to the mountains is not advisable. Be sure to get a good night sleep. By doing this, you'll have plenty of energy to enjoy your day through your last run.

Travel & Arrival

  • We strongly recommend carrying tire chains for all winter travel. Seasoned skiers and snowboarders will also recommend:

    • Snow tires
    • Basic roadside emergency kit
    • Blanket
    • Plenty of washer fluid
    • Good windshield wipers
    • Snow scraper brush combo
  • The Summit's convenient location allows for plenty of private shuttle services that provide a ride to the slopes. Check out the most popular services.

  • GETTING HERE IS REALLY, REALLY EASY, no matter where you're coming from! The Summit at Snoqualmie is located at Snoqualmie Pass, just an hour from Seattle on Interstate 90. The 3+ lane highway provides quick and easy access whether you're coming from the West, or the East.

    Click Here to Get Directions

  • Get in the habit of checking our conditions report, checking the WSDOT I-90 Snoqualmie Pass road report, or call 5-1-1 on your phone before every trip to The Summit.

  • If taking lessons, plan to arrive at least an hour before your scheduled lesson time. Arriving early affords you a better parking spot, quicker check-in and equipment rentals, plus sets the tone for a positive day.

  • Alpental: Follow Alpental Road to the top, as you near the base area you'll begin to see the main lots on the left.Continue up the road to access extra parking and overnight parking.

      Summit West: The easiest to find, right off I-90 exit 52.  Park in one of the lots located just west of the main buildings or in a designated area along the main road. For the best parking spots near the Summit SnowSports School, turn right into the upper driveway just east of the U.S. Forest Service building. This lot is for carpools only on the weekends in January and February.


    Summit Central: Features one large lot that accesses both the ski area and tubing facilities. Follow State Route 906 to Summit Central, the main lot is just below the base area. Once parked, head up the heated walkway after the arch way and you'll arrive at the Central plaza. From there you can access everything you'll need for the day. On busy days a parking attendant may guide you to our overflow lots.


    Summit East: The main lot at Summit East is just North of the base areas. There is a secondary lot just below the base area, accessed via Keechelus Drive. The front of the main lot is reserved for condo residents and Inter-Summit Shuttle pick-up and drop-off.

At the Mountain

  • Lessons: If you're starting off with a First Class Beginner lesson, check in at the First Class Desk at Summit West. Located next to Guest Services on the first floor of the Guest Services & Rentals Lodge.  From there we'll get you set up with everything you need for the day.  We recommend checking in at least an hour before your scheduled lesson time.

    Rentals: If you just need to rent equipment, we have a rental shop located at each of our base areas. There you'll be outfitted with the gear you need for an awesome day on the slopes. Check out our rental season pass which makes renting equipment super affordable and easier than boiling water. Lift Tickets: Lift tickets are included with our beginner lesson packages. If you are not purchasing one of these lesson packages, you will need to purchase a lift ticket. You can purchase a lift ticket by visiting our ticket windows located on the plaza at West, Central, Alpental or Milwaukee Lodge at Summit East. You can also buy tickets at the Rental Shop or get ticket vouchers online. 

    Gear Storage: We recommend storing any extra gear at our Ski & Board Check, in our coin operated lockers in the base areas, or leave the extras in your vehicle.

    Gear & Gift Shops: Forgetting gear is never fun, but if you find yourself or child without an essential item our retail shops can help. We stock a wide variety of gear at affordable prices so you can enjoy your day on the slopes. Learn More

  • Daily lift tickets give you access to our lifts and terrain for alpine skiing and snowboarding. We have lift ticket options to suit a variety of schedules, ages, and ability levels. Find out more at our Lift Ticket Page

On The Mountain

  • Magic Carpets: Super easy, Carpet Lifts are a great way to get up the hill. You just stand on the carpet and enjoy the gentle ride. Make sure to shuffle away from the off-load area once you reach the top.  

    Fixed Grip Lifts: At The Summit these can be found with 2, 3, or 4 person chair capacities. These lifts move at a relatively constant speed and are only slowed down on occasionly. Loading fixed grip chairlifts requires more attention and practice than a detachable chairlift as they move at higher speeds in the loading zone.


    Detachable High-Speed Lifts: At The Summit these can be found with 4 person chair capacities, known as a high-speed quad. These chairlifts operate at very low speed in the load and unload zones, and high speeds between the bottom and top. This design makes them easier to load and reduces ride time when compared to fixed grip chairlifts.


    Chairlift Riding Tips:

    1. Skiers need to take the pole straps off their wrists. Snowboarders need to attach a leash.
    2. Outside guests hold poles in inside hand. Middle guests hold poles in either hand.
    3. Outside guests look over outside shoulder and grab the chair as it approaches. Middle guests should grab back of chair as it approaches. Sit down as the chair reaches you.
    4. Once the chair has left the platform, lower the safety bar. Do not bounce or swing during the ride. Take care not to drop gloves, poles or litter. Should you lose something, note the number of the next tower for orientation.
    5. When getting off, you will see the sign warning of unload area, open the safety bar. Raise the tips of your skis so they don't catch as you approach the platform. As your skis touch the snow, stand up and push yourself off the chair with your free hand.
    6. Move quickly away from moving chair and keep unloading area clear. Brake once you are well clear of your companions.


    For more on chairlift safety, click here.

  • Here's some info provided by experienced skiers and snowboarders that know what will make your first experience safer and more enjoyable:

    1. Never ski or ride in closed areas or outside the mountain boundaries
    2. Be courteous in the lift lines. Everyone wants to get to the top just as bad as you do!
    3. Be conscious of other skiers and riders on the mountain
    4. Clear the exit area when getting off the chair lift
    5. Always ride or ski with a buddy
    6. Look out for marked and unmarked obstacles
    7. Always be conscious of merging trails, and move to the side of a trail away from other skiers or riders if you stop
    8. Never leave your equipment unattended
    9. Terrain Parks are not rated. Be safety conscious and read the guidelines
    10. Be courteous to those around you and be sure to have a good time
  • Be sure to check out the lifts and the trails marked on the trail map. The colored symbols next to the trails indicate the difficulty of the trail. You will also find them on posted signs on the mountain. On your first day you'll be wanting to look for the green runs.

    Before you ride a lift, make sure the trail symbols off of that lift fit your ability. If you have any questions or need directions, talk to a lift attendant or another employee. If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side step down the slope.

Remember: Smile, ask questions, and laugh at your mistakes. Remember, all those people skiing down the hill had a first day too... It's all about having fun!

See you on the slopes!  Don't forget to sign up to receive Summit deals and updates.